Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What Did You Expect?

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Last night PBS aired a program on NOVA that had to do with Pizarro's conquest of the Inca Empire.[1] The story has always been that he and his tiny band of intrepid adventurers had done it all by themselves. That has been the official story for 500 years. But actually, the official story is wrong. The Inca Empire was in the process of falling apart when the Spanish arrived and the Inca Empire was only a few hundred years old at the time. The conquered tribes were already looking for ways to get rid of the Inca when Pizarro showed up. So the truth is he and the Spanish had all sorts of help from the Indians. After they were in charge, the Spanish took all the credit. Well of course they did. What do you expect?

The non-official story has been around for 500 years too, but nobody was listening. The exact same thing is true in Mexico. There the Aztec were just not popular. I wonder why? All sorts of Indians rose up to get rid of the Aztec when the Spanish arrived. Actually, the Spanish in Mexico, themselves, acknowledged their partners long ago. They had to do that to keep their partners happy. But the upper class still kept most of the power for itself anyway. Well of course they did. What did you expect?

All sorts of things helped the Spanish: things like being 3,800 years ahead of the aboriginals in organization, weapons and other technologies. Horses. Smallpox. (The Europeans cannot be blamed for knowingly spreading disease because they didn't even know about germs until the end of the 19th century.) Credit where credit is due. Aboriginals fighting for their own freedom were the most important factor in the conquest. Numbers matter, but people with power like to keep power. What did you expect?

The Americans who founded the United States told everyone the revolution was for them. But they kept all the power for themselves. Well of course they did. Canada is not different, nor is any other place. What did you expect?


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